5 Best Places to Visit for the Summer in the Balkans

The Balkans is one of the most interesting and attractive regions in Europe. For many years an overlooked area when it came to international travel, it is now having its moment in the sun, and with good reason!

The stunning natural beauty, rich history, and fascinating culture of the Balkan countries combine to make them wonderful places to explore if you plan a trip during summer in the Balkans, either on standalone trips or as a combined adventure.

This guide will take an in-depth look at the unique selling points of the five most notable Balkan countries: Croatia, Slovenia, Montenegro, Albania, and Greece, to work out which Balkan destination is right for you. 

Whether you are looking for a leisurely beach vacation, an adrenaline-fuelled adventure, or a cultural tour filled with historical interest and mouth watering flavors, these countries will provide. So pack your bags and we’ll head off on a journey of discovery to find out which is the best country in the Balkans to visit. 

Best Summer Destinations in the Balkans

Croatia: Coastal Beauty

Source: Unsplash

Croatia is probably the most well-known and most popular of all the Balkan destinations, and it is easy to understand why. With its dramatic Adriatic coastline, historic cities, and remarkable natural beauty, it offers a glorious alternative for travelers who might have considered an Italian itinerary but were put off by price, or adventurers seeking something a little bit different. 

Key Attractions

Dubrovnik – Known as the “Pearl of the Adriatic,” the ancient city of Dubrovnik is instantly recognizable thanks to its imposing and remarkably well-preserved medieval walls, as well as being the site of various Game of Thrones locations! There is loads to see in this fabulous city, from a stroll along the Stradun to a visit to the Rector’s Palace, not to mention the breathtaking views from Mount Srd, accessible via cable car from the outskirts of the old town.

Plitvice Lakes National Park – This UNESCO World Heritage site is a stunning landscape of interconnected lakes, channels, and magnificent cascades. Cloaked by deep, dark forests full of amazing hiking trails, it is the perfect spot for back-country adventurers to explore.

Split – The ancient seat of Roman Dalmatia, Split is a vibrant, buzzing town filled with amazing Classical architecture and archaeological sites. Explore the underground cellars of Diocletian's Palace and the impressive Cathedral of Saint Domnius, before a relaxing evening overlooking the water at the Riva promenade.

Best Time to Visit

Croatia’s summer weather is delightful, with temperatures warm but not overwhelming, which makes May to September the best time to visit. Avoid July and August if possible, as the crowds can be overwhelming, particularly in Dubrovnik.

Local Cuisine

Croatian food blends some of the best aspects of Mediterranean and Central European cooking. Highlights include seafood risotto, Peka, and Pag cheese. 

Slovenia: Gorgeous Greenery

Source: Unsplash

Slovenia is a tiny yet incredibly endearing country, filled with green landscapes and outdoor activities. Ljubljana, the capital, is often described as one of the most charming and underrated cities in Europe.

Key Attractions

Ljubljana – Slovenia’s delightful capital city is a wonderful blend of vibrant modernity and rich history. It is a walkable city filled with greenery, as well as marvelous historical sites such as Ljubljana Castle. Don’t miss out on a stroll along the river, followed by an afternoon of shopping and food tasting at the colorful Central Market. 

Lake Bled – The picturesque views of Lake Bled are recognizable all over the world, and make this a must-visit spot in Slovenia. The lake’s natural beauty and the iconic island church of Sveti Stefan, not to mention the medieval castle and dramatic mountain backdrop, make it a truly stunning place to visit. Hike to Ojstrica for glorious vistas, enjoy a traditional boat ride, or hit the slopes of the Julian Alps for a spot of skiing or snowboarding!

Best Time to Visit

Slovenia is a great place to visit year-round, with skiing in the winter and amazing outdoor adventures in the summer. 

Local Cuisine

Thanks to its diverse cultural influences, Slovenian cuisine is varied and delicious. Hearty stews are a great option in the winter, while dishes like potica (a nut-filled pastry) and žganci, the national dish, are well worth exploring. 

Montenegro: World Heritage Landscapes

Source: Unsplash

Montenegro is another small country, but thanks to its dramatic mountain landscapes and pristine beaches it punches way above its weight when it comes to travel experiences. 

Key Attractions

Bay of Kotor – This UNESCO World Heritage site has to be seen to be believed, as it is truly one of the most eye-catching and beautiful bodies of water in the world. The medieval town of Kotor isn’t too shabby either and is the ideal place to set off on a stunning boat trip around the bay and its islets and mountainous vistas. 

Budva  – With its beautiful stretches of golden sand and exciting, dynamic nightlife, Budva is everything you could ask for in a beach town. Its charming old town adds an extra dimension for history buffs, with narrow cobbled streets, historical architecture, and picturesque plazas. 

Best Time to Visit

Montenegro has a warm, pleasant climate year-round, but the best time of the year to visit is May through October. Summer is the best time to visit the Adriatic beaches, while spring and autumn are perfect for more adventurous outdoor trips. 

Local Cuisine

With its abundance of fresh seafood and more hearty dishes like Njeguški pršut (smoked ham) and kacamak (cornmeal mash), Montenegrin cuisine is an ideal blend of Mediterranean and Eastern European flavors. 

Albania: The Undiscovered Gem

Source: Unsplash

Albania is well and truly off the beaten track, an undiscovered gem that is often overlooked by the mainstream tourist trail but boasts a rich, vibrant history, a fascinating culture, and some truly picturesque landscapes. Add in an extremely affordable cost of living and you get a wonderful destination to discover.

Key Attractions

Tirana – Albania’s vibrant capital is bursting with life, thanks to its colorful buildings, bustling markets, and charming cultural landmarks. 

Berat and Gjirokastër – Two UNESCO World Heritage sites for the price of one, Berat and Gjirokastër are wonderfully well-preserved sites dating back to the Ottoman Empire, when Albania was ruled from Istanbul. 

Albanian Riviera – Albania boasts some truly spectacular beaches, complete with crystal-clear water and pristine sands, making it equally as excellent a travel experience for beach lovers as adventure seekers.

Best Time to Visit

Albania is at its best in spring and autumn when the weather is warm but mild.

Local Cuisine

Albanian cuisine is a wonderful mixture of cheesy pastries and long, slow-cooked joints of meat. Byrek is a particular highlight, as is tave kosi, a baked lamb dish made with yogurt. 

Greece: The Cradle of Western Civilization

Source: Unsplash

Although not exclusively Balkan, Greece shares a wide variety of cultural and historical influences with the region, and a visit to Greece as part of a wider exploration of the Balkans adds fascinating context, as well as being a wonderful standalone experience! With its ancient archaeological sites, sun-kissed islands, and rich culture, Greece is a true highlight of any Balkan vacation.

Key Attractions

Ancient Treasures – It would be a difficult job to describe the sheer volume of incredible sites from Ancient Greece that exist in Greece. Athens alone boasts the extraordinary Parthenon and the Acropolis, both unique marvels that would be the culmination of plenty of other vacations. You can also discover archaeological sites almost everywhere you turn, from Crete to Rhodes, as well as rich Byzantine history in spots like Thessaloniki, and early Christian monasteries perched atop towering rock pillars at Meteora

Island Paradises – Greece boasts over 6,000 islands, forming a huge part of the country’s morphology, including famous names such as Santorini, Mykonos, and Corfu. Island-hopping around these tiny rocky enclaves is the ideal way to explore traditional Greek life, in charming stone towns or from dramatic clifftop panoramas. 

Best Time to Visit

Greece can get extremely busy during the peak months, so cruising through Greece is best done during the shoulder seasons at the beginning and end of the summer. April to early June and September to November offer great weather and fewer crowds.

Local Cuisine

With its rich history that has been shaped by various civilizations – from the ancient Greeks to the Byzantines and eventually the Ottomans – you may find some similarities between Greek cuisines and other countries in the Mediterranean. 

You can expect traditional Greek dishes in olive oil, fresh veggies, and herbs, combined with meat and seafood.

For instance, the classic Greek dish moussaka is pretty similar to the Bulgarian dish with exactly the same name. Meanwhile, gyros are pretty similar to Turkish doner too. 


You'll find endless options for both destinations and activities when you plan a summer trip in the Balkans.

Whether you enjoy wandering through historical sites like the Acropolis in Athens, Greece, or prefer a beach getaway around the Adriatic Sea in Dubrovnik, Croatia, this region offers various activities for your summer holiday! 

The region is also known for its rich culinary scene, making it a great place to visit for those looking for foodie destinations in Europe. 

So, are you ready to hit the summer in Balkan?


This post may contain affiliate links. I receive a small commission at no cost to you when you make a purchase using my link.

Like my post?